You say it all the time. We all do. It’s our silent battle.
“I’m fine,” or, “I’m okay.” Maybe you even say, “I’m doing good. Things are great.”
Are you? Because saying it over and over again when it isn’t true makes you almost buy the lie, but then you’re denying yourself something important: honesty.
“You tend to fight and survive every single day without telling anyone what you are going through. It’s probably because you don’t want to disturb others with the emotional load you carry, or maybe you choose not to say it and decided to do things on your own.” – Micah Marah Balbin, Getting through the silent battles you never talk about, 2021
Being Honest with Yourself
Let’s be honest for a moment… a safe, unfiltered, truth-telling moment.
It’s okay to not be okay. Sounds cliche but it’s true. Everyone is fighting a silent battle others know nothing about. Sometimes others know a few things.
- Job loss
But they never know the whole story. The things that caused what they see. The things they don’t see and you’re not willing to share.
For every encounter we have with another person, there is a story behind their every action (or inaction). Good or bad, well-intended or not, there is a path that brought them there and a reason for their actions or words. (Note: a reason, not an excuse; some people are jerks.)
If we know something has driven us to feel how we feel and thus act and speak as we do, the same is true with others.
So are you, are we truly okay?
Being Honest with Others
You may not want to choose the barista for your honest moment, but there’s value in having someone to tell. A journal, a friend, a peer, an anonymous support. It might start as venting or wording your way through excuses, but eventually you start to free yourself.
It’s like bushwhacking through the weeds of lies that nothing’s ever bothered you. Once you start cutting those stifling thorns back, you start to breathe better.
“I’m struggling but I know I’ll get better.”
“Today is a bad day. I want tomorrow to be better but I don’t know how. I need a little help.”
“I’m not okay… and I’m not feeling safe.”
If only to hear support from someone who understands or cares about you, letting this out can be freeing. A weight comes off and relief swells. Your silent battle doesn’t have to stay silent. More importantly, someone’s got your back when things go dark and you’re in danger.
The beauty of coaching is that it doesn’t stop at expressing your feelings. It doesn’t even have to start there.
It’s about seeing the situation for what it is and calling it out. Coaching requires honesty and trust, a thing many first responders have built a wall around.
When you’re honest with yourself, you become more honest with your coach.
When you’re honest with your coach, you’re saying things out loud that start breaking down that wall. It crumbles and lets you out.
Your silent battle isn’t so silent anymore.
Ask yourself these questions and promise a solid, honest answer.
- Am I fighting a silent battle?
- Do I want that to change?
- What do I want to do about it?
- How can I do it?
These are powerful questions you can ask yourself, but with a silent battle, you’ve probably exhausted yourself with self talk already. Self talk tends to turn negative when you’re your only audience.
So, if asking yourself doesn’t drive you to answers or to seeking support, it’s time to ask someone else.
Coaching, peer support, therapy… anything is better than perpetuating negative self-talk. Here’s some resources for support. You can find at least one that’s right for you, and many have multiple resources within that target specific responder groups.
- First Responder Coaching – We’re composed of and service all first responders and families. We listen. We know you. We understand.
- Peer Support Networks – A network of your own first responder peers will know exactly where you’re coming from and, since many have been through it, will help navigate your way out.
- Therapy – Some trauma and mental health issues run deep and need more clinical support. Don’t hesitate to reach out for more help if needed. You are worth every effort.
- Crisis Line – 988 – You. Are. Worth. Fighting. For. Got that? Please reach out if you need immediate assistance. Someone is at the ready for your call or text.
Ending the Silent Battle
We each have a silent battle and they vary in intensity and effect. Whether or not you think you can handle yours, it affects those around you and changes you if not addressed.
A silent battle is still a battle. The wounds eventually start to show on the outside no matter how hard we try to hide them. There’s no need to remain silent to everyone.
Speak up. Find a support suited for you. Start somewhere.
You don’t have to fight your silent battle alone. Others have been there and they’re here for you. Reach out and choose to end your silence today.